A blog a day keeps the doctor away!

Why do it?

Well apparently it’s good for us!

As well as being enjoyable, and as well as it potentially being good for business, it’s actually good for us.   And these are some of the reasons why –

  1.  It’s therapeutic to write about your personal experiences, feelings and inner most thoughts.
  2. It improves memory.
  3. It improves sleep.
  4. It boosts immune cell activity, and
  5. Even helps speed healing.

Research was done a few years ago in America to help understand the impact of blogging and according to Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.

A similar study also reported that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

Flaherty, who studies conditions such as hypergraphia (an uncontrollable urge to write) and writer’s block, also looks to disease models to explain the drive behind this mode of communication. For example, people with mania often talk too much. “We believe something in the brain’s limbic system is boosting their desire to communicate,” Flaherty explains. Located mainly in the midbrain, the limbic system controls our drives, whether they are related to food, sex, appetite, or problem solving. “You know that drives are involved [in blogging] because a lot of people do it compulsively,” Flaherty notes. Also, blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running and looking at art.

As a runner I can totally get that – I’ve stopped running due to injury and now instead have a blog. I’ve transferred my energy from one to the other and now I need to work out how to do both…..

Another scientist is continuing to investigate the link between expressive writing and biological changes, such as improved sleep, that are integral to health.

And even it appears that some hospitals have started hosting patient-authored blogs on their Web sites as clinicians recognise their therapeutic value. Unlike a bedside journal, blogging offers the added benefit of receptive readers in similar situation as well as individuals actually connecting to each other and witnessing each other’s expressions in similar circumstances.  A shared community of non clinical support whilst in the care environment (and beyond).

Personally – I like that its self expression.  Working in the type of industry I which doesn’t always encourage self expression (perhaps discussion ripe for another blog?) perhaps for my emotional and psychological wellbeing I will feel the benefit!

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